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By Gia Miller

Photography by Justin Negard

Waiters/waitresses are the world’s oldest influencers – they tell us what to eat (and drink) whenever we dine out. And we often take their advice without watching hours of their videos to determine if they’re trustworthy. We sat down with some of our local influencers to get to know the folks who influence our choices.

McKenna Ryser
Manager & server, 9 years
The Kitchen Table, Pound Ridge

What is it like being an influencer?
I don’t know, but everyone really appreciates it when you can make it easier for them. We have people who will come in and just stare at the menu. So, I will tell them a couple of things, and they’ll say, “Just do that.” It’s satisfying because they’re happy.

What is your number one rule when making recommendations?
Be honest. If I do not like something or if I don’t eat it, I’ll tell them. Obviously, there’s nothing here that I don’t like, but I’ve changed my eating habits, so there are a lot of things that I don’t eat anymore. So, I just tell people the truth. And then I tell them what the customers tell us.

What’s the best recommendation you’ve ever made?
The dirty chai latte – people love dirty chai lattes. We often have someone at the counter debating if they want a latte because they think it might be too much caffeine, so then they’ll consider a chai, and when we tell them that you can mix the two, they go nuts! And then they try it, and they love it and they come back for it.

What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened at this restaurant?
Once, a man ordered an espresso shot, so I poured it into a mug for him because I thought he indicated he was staying at the counter. Then, he told me he wanted it in a to-go cup, so I apologized and poured it into the to-go cup. Next, he took off the lid and drank it right there! He threw the cup away, said thanks, and then walked out. Everyone at the counter was like, “What was that?”

What’s the coolest thing that’s ever happened at this restaurant?
During the pandemic, a man walked in and began telling us how the pandemic hadn’t financially affected him. We were joking with him, and after he ordered his food, he took out his wallet and put $100 in the tip jar, then $200, then $300, and he ended up giving us a $600 tip! It was such a bad day, and he made it so good.

What’s your favorite dish?
Grilled cheese – you can never go wrong with a grilled cheese sandwich. Ours is really flavorful, and it will fill you up.

Editor-in-Chief at Connect to Northern Westchester | Website | + posts

Gia Miller is an award-winning journalist and the editor-in-chief/co-publisher of Connect to Northern Westchester. She has a magazine journalism degree (yes, that's a real thing) from the University of Georgia and has written for countless national publications, ranging from SELF to The Washington Post. Gia desperately wishes schools still taught grammar. Also, she wants everyone to know they can delete the word "that" from about 90% of their sentences, and there's no such thing as "first annual." When she's not running her media empire, Gia enjoys spending quality time with friends and family, laughing at her crazy dog and listening to a good podcast. She thanks multiple alarms, fermented grapes and her amazing husband for helping her get through each day. Her love languages are food and humor.